By Elizabeth Baumann
A Reading from the Gospel of Luke 13:10-17
10 Now he was teaching in one of the synagogues on the Sabbath. 11And just then there appeared a woman with a spirit that had crippled her for eighteen years. She was bent over and was quite unable to stand up straight. 12When Jesus saw her, he called her over and said, “Woman, you are set free from your ailment.” 13When he laid his hands on her, immediately she stood up straight and began praising God. 14But the leader of the synagogue, indignant because Jesus had cured on the Sabbath, kept saying to the crowd, “There are six days on which work ought to be done; come on those days and be cured, and not on the Sabbath day.” 15But the Lord answered him and said, “You hypocrites! Does not each of you on the sabbath untie his ox or his donkey from the manger, and lead it away to give it water? 16And ought not this woman, a daughter of Abraham whom Satan bound for eighteen long years, be set free from this bondage on the Sabbath day?” 17When he said this, all his opponents were put to shame; and the entire crowd was rejoicing at all the wonderful things that he was doing.
True confession: I sympathize with the Pharisees about the Sabbath. It started a few years ago when I was filling out a long questionnaire that asked me if I take a full 24-hour day off each week. Being a stay-at-home mom of a baby and a toddler at the time, the answer was a whopping no.
The truth is, being able to take a consecutive 24 hours for pure rest is a luxury very few people get. The cows still have to be milked, everyone still needs to eat. And maybe that’s why Jesus comes in breaking all the rules: most people are more burdened than helped by trying against reality to carve out a whole day.
Since I, and most of us, don’t have the luxury of a clear-cut Sabbath, and since Jesus breaks pretty much every rule about it, wouldn’t it be easiest to jettison the whole idea? Easier, perhaps, but not what we were made for. God made us to need rest. He made us creatures who require sleep — a lot of it — and food every few hours. We are made to be dependent on rhythms of care.
So the answer, I think, is that we be creative. We attune ourselves to the rhythms God has created and we trust in the circumstances he’s given us, even when the two seem to constantly clash. Rules about a Sabbath would be easier, which is why I sympathize with the Pharisees, but perhaps they wouldn’t be so conducive to pursuing relationship with God.
Elizabeth Baumann is a seminary graduate, a priest’s wife, and the mother of two small daughters. A transplant from the West Coast, she now lives in “the middle of nowhere” in the Midwest with too many cats.
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Daily Devotional Cycle of Prayer
Today we pray for:
Diocese of Rokon (South Sudan), the Rt. Rev. Francis Loyo Mori
Diocese of Derby (England), the Rt. Rev. Libby Lane
Christ Cathedral, Salina, Kansas